1. Who can help me learn how to bowl seriously?
The bowling professional at your bowling center's pro shop likely offers coaching. Some limited coaching will likely be offered to you if you purchase a bowling ball or two from the pro shop. More extensive coaching will be available at a modest fee. There may be other coaches who coach at your bowling center or who work independently in your area. One way to be sure a coach knows his or her stuff is if the coach is certified by bowling's U.S. governing body, the United States Bowling Congress. USBC certifications are, in order of proficiency, Level 1, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. There are only twenty or so Gold Coaches in the United States, but rest assured that you can make a lot of progress with one of the other coaches, too.
Another option is to attend a bowling camp. Certain current and/or former professional bowlers hold these camps at different bowling centers around the United States at various times of the year. Camps can run for a day, a weekend, or a full week, and can offer instruction for bowlers at more than one level of experience. One of the longest-running camp organizers is Dick Ritger Bowling Camps. College and university bowling programs sometimes run summer bowling camps on their campuses, too.
If you can afford to travel to Texas, bowling's International Training and Research Center offers lessons of various lengths by the world-renowned coaches of bowling's Team USA. Lessons include sophisticated video and computer analysis.
Keep in mind that there is no one single way to bowl. One coach may tell you something different from another. Your task is to find which way works best for you. It may be a combination of what you have learned from different sources.
2. What if I want to learn on my own?
There are a number of books, websites, DVDs, and YouTube videos that are available. You can find them easily by searching around the Internet, and you can determine which ones are best for you by reading the user reviews. There are too many good options to mention any one in particular.
Except this one: While you will initially be focused on improving your physical game, you will learn as you go that your mental game is just as important as your physical game. Focused for Bowling by Dr. Dean Hinitz, a leading bowling psychologist, is a must read.
When it comes time to assess your progress, video analysis can be a great tool. It's so great that many coaches use it. Good apps like Hudl Technique allow you analyze video in slow motion, compare your video side-by-side with other bowlers, and even share your video with other bowlers to get their feedback. But, how do you video yourself while bowling? If a friend or loved one won't help you out here, you can purchase a floor or table tripod that will hold your phone, but otherwise you'll just have to get creative with propping up your phone or tablet on a table in the bowling center. You won't be the first to do this.
3. Are there any apps to help me keep track of my bowling?
Yes. One of the most popular for iPhones is PinPal, while for Android phones there is My Lane Play. Others apps are available. In addition, the SCN Action Bowling app from Sports Challenge Network will automatically track your bowling while you are bowling at centers connected to their service. The app's action bowling feature allows you to enter your league scores into a virtual competition with other league bowlers anywhere in the world and win cash prizes if your scores are better than other participants.
4. How can I keep up on what is happening in competitive bowling?
The monthly paper magazine The Bowler's Journal provides general coverage of the news in competitive bowling and the bowling business, as well as bowling ball reviews. For more advanced serious bowlers, the subscription website Bowling This Month is a great technical resource covering lane play, bowling ball motion and reaction, new bowling equipment, tips to improve technique, and mental and physical conditioning.
Audio programs on the Internet feature interviews of the top professional bowlers, PBA, PWBA, and USBC leaders, and important figures in the bowling industry. Programs include the Let's Go Bowling Show, The Bowler's Show, the Spare Time Radio Program (only during the PBA season), and the Above 180 Podcast. If your bowling center or tournament venue is not near your home, downloading one of these programs and then listening to it as you drive there is a great way to keep up with bowling and put you in a bowling frame of mind at the same time.
For up-to-the minute coverage of the news in competitive bowling, the best source is probably the 11frame.com blog of newspaper editor and bowling Hall of Famer Jeff Richgels. You won't mind skipping over his posts about bowling in his Madison, Wisconsin area (unless, of course, you bowl there!) to get to everything else.
5. Can I watch professional bowling tournaments in person?
Absolutely! Both PBA and PWBA tournaments actively welcome spectators. The spectator admission fee will be very modest and could even be $0. There may also be a reception with the pros that you can attend for a small fee. And perhaps the most fun - there's usually a "Pro-Am" that gives you the opportunity to bowl right alongside the pros, again for a small fee.
6. Where can I watch professional bowling tournaments that take place outside my area?
Some tournaments are broadcast on live television by ESPN and CBS Sports Network. The USBC's Bowl TV and Bowlstream broadcast some tournaments via free live-streaming Internet video with many of their previous live-streams archived for later viewing. YouTube is a great source of archived bowling telecasts going back several years.
For a very reasonable annual fee, you can have access to the PBA's Xtra Frame service, which provides the most extensive live-streaming and archived coverage of PBA and PWBA tournaments and other bowling-related programming.